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Thursday, November 23, 2017

BLACK and BLUE FRIDAY


"Only in America do people trample others
 for sales 
exactly one day after being thankful 
for what they already have."
 ~ ghost of Mark Twain



I got off from work last night at 8 P.M. and visited Best Buy 

to pick up a Blu Ray of THE EQUALIZER in a steel book.

The metal railings demarcating where the shoppers would eagerly wait for Black Friday 

were already up ...

and a woman in a thick coat was already siting in her fold-out chair, book in hand.

I had to admire her bladder control if nothing else.


I wondered, among other things,
 if she would be trampled 
by the hoards behind her.



 What turns ordinary shoppers 
vicious and dangerous?




Adults hit children in their way.  

People snatch items from the carts 
or arms of others.  

Innocent bystanders are injured.


Store-engineered scarcity breeds an urgency and drive to snatch the "treasure" while it is still there.

City lights no longer have to go out for many to become animals.  

Just low prices, limited supply, and time shortage is all that is necessary.

Is a cheap flat-screen TV worth 
gouging out the eye of a child?



 We have lost sight 
of what makes 
this season special.  


It is not the possessions we love in our lives 

but the people in them who love us and we love in return.

Whether you believe in the Christ child or not, 

most of us know that it is better to give than to grieve.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF 
THE BLACK FRIDAY 
MADNESS?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A THANKSGIVING WISH


Nothing witty or profound ...  just my sincere wish that this Day 

be one of healing, peace, and small acts of kindness for all of you.


Sometimes being in the right
 is not as important 
as being at the side of a friend in need:


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It Is In Man's Nature To Destroy Himself?


“Inhumanity, n.
 One of the signal and characteristic qualities of humanity.”
- Ambrose Bierce 

A 4th murder victim by a serial killer in Tampa, Florida.

A gunman kills four and injures two children at a Northern California Elementary school.

The gunman, in a stolen car, appeared to pick victims at random.


Was he born this way?

Did he learn to vent his rage by example of parents, entertainment, 

or are we all born with a nature that will destroy others and ourselves?


Is it culture?

American newspapers and Chinese newspapers write of mass slayings differently,

When American reporters write about them,

they focus on the flawed characters of the killers, 

saying they are mentally unstable, darkly disturbed, or had a bad temper. 

Chinese reporters, however, 

point to the strained relationships in the killers’ lives, 

noting that they were socially isolated and didn’t get along with their victims.

 

 Our children seem to lose their innocence early, and once lost, it is gone forever.

Is that the explanation?  

We have lost touch with our hearts and so fail to cherish anything?

Perhaps we need to strive 
to see as a child again. 



 What do you think 
the secret to a whole life is?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

PEACE IN A WORLD WITHOUT IT

"If you want peace, stop fighting.  If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts."
 -Elu

"Nothing can bring you peace of mind but yourself."
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder." 
- St. Augustine


As I sat down at my laptop tonight, mulling over what to write for tomorrow's post,

Anything I could write seemed trivial against a backdrop of  

church killings and molesting of children by those who felt invulnerable.

I heard one word murmur within my mind: "Peace."

I wasn't thinking of inner peace.  

I was thinking of what my writing friends might be interested in.

Perhaps the Great Mystery answered my question for me.

Don't expect any great wisdom here though.  

I am not the Great Mystery.  I don't have the job qualifications.

But I know that, like happiness, you cannot find peace by looking for it.  

Like happiness, peace of mind is a by-product of living not its goal.


Be true to you:

When we practice congruency, we behave similarly to the way we feel and think. 

When the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us is the same, we are practicing congruency. 

Problems arise when we see ourselves one way 

(for example, as a loving mother) 

but behave in ways that are at odds with how we would like to see ourselves 

(for example, neglect our children because we are too busy). 

Finding ways to keep our inner ideals and the way we behave similar is one of the keys to peace of mind.


Peace on the battlefield:

It is easier to be at peace when we listen to beautiful music, play with our pets, 

walk through undisturbed nature, and step away from the world.

But Life is a harsh  mistress.  

She draws you back into the chaos of conflicts with bosses, spouses, children, bills, ill health ... 

the number of enemy troops you face sometimes appear endless.

Each battlefield we find ourselves on contains a lesson that will keep us from worse ones 

if we but learn it correctly.


Look for that lesson.  

Perhaps it is only to take ourselves not so seriously, to learn to laugh at ourselves 

(we will never run out of material!), 

to learn that some battles are not worth the collateral damage, 

or to find we should not fail to plan unless we plan to fail.

 Failure has negative connotations, but actually, everyone fails. 

 How can you improve or learn anything if you never fail? 

A healthy attitude towards failure encourages bravery. 

It’s not you that is the failure, instead it is what you tried that failed. There is a big difference.


Listen to the Wake-Up Call of Loss

 To lose something we had taken blithely for granted is jarring.  

It should alert us to look for all the other blessings in our lives that really are so precious.


Forgive:

Those who hurt us have taken enough of our time.  Why invite them along in your thoughts for the rest of the day?  

They have to live in the world they make for themselves with their thoughtless natures.  

Forgive them, release them from the obligation they owe you, and you will find you have released yourself.  

Hate is like drinking rat poison, hoping the rat will die of it.


Think Outside of Yourself

Each person you pass or meet is fighting a battle no one knows anything about.  

Be kinder than you might be inclined to be for that reason.


Learn the Power of a Smile

 Whenever you are laughing or smiling, something interesting happens.

 Not only does something happen on a chemical level to make you feel better, 

but it also stops all stress and negativity from entering your psyche. 

 A simple smile can make such a difference.


 ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’
 ~Victor Frankl

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

WHAT WILL CARRY YOU THROUGH





“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 
Martin Luther King, Jr.

What will carry you through as a writer?

1. A Wild And Mad Daemon of a Muse:


If you want to survive, you’ve got to have an imagination that won’t lay down and die. 

Your cat has exploded?  Use it. 

Zombies are pounding on the door.  Ignore them.  Think of it as the pulse of your muse murmuring ideas to you.


2. Discipline:


No amount of imagination will help you unless you sit your tush in the chair, pound the keyboard, and put prose on the blank screen.

Need Motivation?

Come up with your own item of visual motivation. It might be inspirational words taped to your computer

(“You get what you dare, baby, and if you want big, you dare big”—author Leonard Bishop)


 The primary way writers keep discipline going is through the weekly quota. Most successful fiction writers make a word goal and stick to it.


Discipline is helped by a healthy body.


The imagination is housed in the brain. The brain is housed in the body. The body is the temple of the soul. Treat it as such.

Your productivity and creativity depend on it.  Take that brisk walk!  Both your body and muse need it. 


3. A Schizophrenic Frame of Mind:


You must be a triad:

Optimistic enough to believe your work will eventually be bought/

Realistic enough to know it will not be overnight/

Pessimistic enough to question the purity of human motives when you finally are handed a contract to sign.


4. Inner Strength:


You have to be able to pound nail after nail into board after board to build your Ark under a cloudless sky to the sound of derisive laughter behind you.

You must believe in yourself before anyone else will.

Face the Harsh Law:

What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do

You may believe your talent is one in a million, but it is what you do with it that counts.

Make it an inner contract to finish what you start,

to wring that final chapter out of your imagination, and to brave rejection and put it out there either by self-publication or submitting to agents/editors.


5. Curiosity:
 

"The important thing is not to stop questioning.

 Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.

It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity."
- Albert Einstein

Most writers are curious by nature. We look at the world around us and wonder at it.

Who are these people? What are we all doing here?

Where are we heading? Why do we do the things we do? How will we achieve our goals?

Remember how curious you were as a child?

Everything you encountered spawned a series of questions

because you were trying to learn and understand the world around you.

Bring that childlike curiosity back, and you’ll never need to look far for now, inspiring writing ideas.

By fostering curiosity, we can create a fountain of ideas.

It doesn’t matter what form your writing takes or what genre you’re writing in.

By coming up with intriguing questions, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed with inspiration.

Take the basic questions and put a riveting spin to them:

Who?
Who does my main character trust? What does that say about them? About the trusted person?

What?
What motivates people to take drastic actions?

Where?
Where do these people want to be?

When?
When does a child become an adult?

Why?
Why does this story matter?

How?
How do you describe something that doesn’t really exist? 

Hope this helps in some small way. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

REJECTION'S LESSONS



REJECTION

It's a hard pill to swallow.  Our prose is an extension of who we are, what we are.  

When our story, our novel is rejected, it is a pushing away of what makes us US.

Have you ever been told by a romantic partner, "It's not you; it's me."

You knew the truth: IT WAS YOU. Ouch!


What is the TRUTH about novel or story rejection?

EDITORS REJECT STORIES, GOOD AND BAD, 
BECAUSE THEY FEEL THAT THE PARTICULAR STORY WILL NOT GIVE THEIR READERS 
THE KIND OF SPECIFIC READING EXPERIENCE THEY WANT OR EXPECT
 IN THAT PARTICULAR VENUE.
 

EDITOR'S REASONS for buying a story:

1. The editor knows it will give the reader a Satisfying Reading Experience of the kind his magazine or anthology was intended to provide.
 

2. The story has a clear-cut, likable character with whom the reader can identify.
 

3. The story tells, and solves, a clear-cut narrative problem which the main character solves by his or her own efforts.
 

4. The story makes the reader glad he read it, therefore giving the reader a (see #1 above) Satisfying Reading Experience.





OTHER THOUGHTS

A magazine, an anthology, even publishing houses ... 
they have only finite space and have to consider balance in their publication(s).

Rejecting your story may have broken the heart of the editor ... 

or they may have buried it in their cat's kitty litter box.  

You know which option I like to think is relevant to my stories!! 


You will probably not be given a reason for rejection ... or you will be given a vague, sugar-coated one.



1.) If you were the editor's best friend and you submitted a story she couldn't use, she would reject it.
  
2.) If you were her mother and you submitted a story she couldn't use, she would reject it. 

3.) If you were Jesus at the right hand of God and you submitted a story she couldn't use ...

come on, she would accept it. 

Hey, we're talking possible damnation here!



Bottom line: you were rejected.  People in Bosnia only wish that was their greatest problem.  

We have to move on ... or don't.


We learn from the blows we take ... or we languish in them.  


Deep down you know which option is more healing.


In the end, we get compared to other good stories with similar themes.  

If another rings purer or more evocative than ours .... guess what?



This is the real world of publication.  

And eventually, you are going to have to fist-fight a bear.

Yeah, you're outclassed ... but you entered these woods of your own volition.

It will not be just one bear ...

oh, no it will be polar, grizzly, and Kodiak.  



Your story will have to run through a gauntlet of judges that just don't care about you at all.  

Not a bit.

They care about themselves.  

They do not want to choose a story that the readers will label "Awful!" 

and in turn paint those judges with the same tar.


May we all someday experience that singular joy of being accepted.

And if it means anything ... I like you.    :-)


Friday, November 3, 2017

5 SECRETS TO WRITING A BEST SELLING NOVEL




 Think back on the last novel that wowed you, and you will find these 5 elements:

1.) AN INTRIGUING STORY LINE

No retreads are riveting.  Originality will snare the interest of the browsing reader.  

This is a hectic world filled with head-turning headlines.  Use them as a catalyst to ask WHAT IF?

The beginning of a novel sets the stage and introduces the characters and basis of the plot. 

The body of the novel builds the plot up to the climax and resolution of the story line.

Along the way set the reader's expectations on their ears.


2.) RIVETING CHARACTERS

The Old Laughing Lady ... 

the police cannot find her.  Whenever people spot her outside their homes, they lose their shadows, slowly waste away, and finally die.

 Let the reader become the character or be in the scene with the character viewing the action. 

Bring the reader into each scene through powerful, intimate relationships with the key characters. 

Make your characters three-dimensional. Give them weaknesses and flaws and show them evolve with a sense of realism.


3.) ENTHRALLING SCENES

Take Mark Twain's remembrance of Hawaii:

 “For me its balmy airs are always blowing, 

its summer seas flashing in the sun; 

the pulsing of its surf is in my ear; 

I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, 

its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud-rack.”

Bestselling authors transform readers into people who are mentally experiencing their story.

 The readers visualize being present as the story unfolds. 

Photographs and videos are a godsend to allow writers to describe scenes in realistic detail. 

Stimulate the reader’s senses with sounds, odors, tastes, and tactile experiences. 

Bring your readers into the real world.


4.) A DOWNHILL RACER WITH THE BRAKES CUT

Readers want an emotional impact with tension, high stakes, and powerful conflicts. 

 They want to live the thrill with your characters. 

End each scene with a hook that will grab your readers by the throat and make them turn the page. 


5.) AN ENDING THAT PAYS OFF

 A perfect ending: everyone one has read at least one and, as writers, we all strive to write one.

The first and most important key to a great ending is inevitability.

Even in surprise or twist endings, each scene must interlock and weave the pattern that will become the ending.  

 Characters' actions create the ending. 

The ending should come as the result of a choice that the main characters make.

Even in a series, the Ending must end ... something.  

It doesn't have to tie everything up, but most of the characters must be brought to end of their current circumstances. 

HAPPY WRITING!